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A discarded couch may be what has spread a bedbug infestation at Clifty Manor, an apartment complex that is part of Harriman Housing Authority.
That is what authority director Sheila Smith believes.
“If the tenants would not pick up the stuff on the curb that has bedbugs,” Smith said. “All the time they are carrying it in.”
Smith said residents bringing in discarded furniture is part of the problem. She also says some are not following the steps the authority has asked them to take to help eradicate the infestation she said has impacted three apartments.
“They (the apartments) are being treated on a monthly basis,” Smith said. “We’re doing the best we can. The spray they are using is killing them,”
Clifty Manor resident Ernest Robinson shows bite marks on his leg, arms and neck.
He said his doctor instructed him to cover his bedding in plastic to smother the bugs.
“I’ve got bedbugs in my bed, bedbugs in my bathtub and bedbugs running all over my floor. I’m eat up with them — my legs, my back, my neck, my arms,” Robinson said. “Them suckers are fast, too.”
The housing authority, including a pest control agent, recently held a meeting with residents about how to quash the problem, including giving out handouts detailing what to do.
In the handout, the authority said if it is determined the residence is infested, the tenant will be given a checklist and asked to certify that they did all the items listed.
On the day of the treatment, all bedding should be removed from the bed, curtains removed and all washed and dried the day of treatment.
Plastic bags are provided for tenants to take their clothing, bedding and drapes to the laundry facilities, according to Smith. Residents are asked to put freshly laundered items in a different sealed plastic bag to bring them back to the residence.
“Heat kills them,” Smith said.
One rule that has some residents disgruntled is that they cannot put their discarded items on the curb or in trqash bins to be picked up.
If a mattress is likely to be infested, the tenant may want to consider throwing it out, according to recommendations given to residents.
Smith said they should call the city of Harriman officials to arrange pick up the items for a cost.
“They cannot put it at the Dumpster; the Dumpster is for trash only,” Smith said.
Robinson said he was told it would cost $50 to get rid of his contaminated furniture.
I’ve got almost $800 in that bed; $700 in my couch and chair,” he said.
While laundering is part of the solution, Smith said it is not a lack of cleanliness that is the cause.
“It is just something going on right now. They are everywhere. You can get them at the movies. You can get them anywhere,” Smith said.
In addition to being cautious about taking discarded furniture, the handouts the authority gave out also tell tenants to check around the sleeping areas of places they may be visiting, look closely at any purchases, especially furniture or mattresses, made at a secondhand store and consider purchasing a special mattress cover.